Mock me all you want but I plan to survive the Zombie Apocalypse!

February 7, 2014
by Craftygrrrl
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Two weeks ago I cast off my Golden Wheat Cardi, ends were sewn in & the sweater was blocked…and then it sat for some time because I didn’t have any suitable buttons…not quite sure how that happened, but there you are. Panicked, I tossed my button bag (realized how non-traditional a button bag was & remedied to fix that!) & came up empty, but did stop to admire my collection of buttons. My preference is for handmade either wooden or porcelain buttons as well as vintage. My parents are very good at keeping an eye out at antique shops & boot sales for sets for me. I am also trying to find out what happened to both my Granmas button jars…

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I searched Etsy, where I found & ordered some lovely vintage buttons,


but they wouldn’t work with my new cardi. The search continued…luckily Toronto has a Fashion District, sadly it’s not as awesome as it once was, but there is a button store on the South West corner of Spadina & Queen St W. It’s about 4-ish doors west of Spadina and they only take cash (this is important!). It’s a small store but they are packed floor to ceiling with boxes of buttons amongst whom I found some suitable options…

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As I’ll mostly be wearing this at work, I went with the solid black buttons (even though the big hot pink ones were my preferred choice) as I have a Uniform Policy I need to comply with.


Please excuse the less than stellar loo shot, but my attempt to take the photo in one of the beautiful Art Nouveau mirrors in the European Decorative Arts gallery at work turned out terribly fuzzy


...and am certain the Gallery Guard was wondering what on earth I was doing , then remembered it was me, so carried on with his rounds…

Once I had my botton situation all sorted, I decided that it was high time I followed that long tradition of having a proper button tin. These tins should be an old Quality Street or Shortbread tin, Mason jars are also acceptable. Fortunately, I picked up a tin of Quality Street over the holidays & after dumping out the leftover Orange & Strawberry cremes (seriously! who eats them?! they are as bad as those Violet Pastilles blegh!) I gathered all my buttons & discovered…I need a second tin already…


Point of editorial clarity: It appears I was dead wrong about the origins of my Maternal Great Grandmother. My parents called shortly after I wrote my last post to politely enquire which Nan came from Yorkshire then proceeded to explain that I was very wrong. Nan Richardson (nee Perrot sp?) was from Melksham, Wiltshire. Which for those of you with a far superior grasp of the counties of England will know is not even remotely close to Yorkshire & is in fact in the South of England…however my Mum has discovered in her pursuit of the family tree that Nan’s father was imprisoned for sheep stealing (more than likely to feed his large family) which is probably the event that led to my Nan coming to Canada to work as a Domestic at the age of 12 as a Home Child through the Bernardo Homes in England. This particular chapter of history is an interesting and sad one, it speaks volumes about Victorian English society and how they viewed the poor. I could go on for a fairly long time about my opinions of Industrial era child labour, the soul destroying work houses and the arrogance of the upper classes who “knew what the poor needed to set themselves straight”, but that was not the original intention of this…

Side note: In 2009 Australian PM Kevin Rudd & in 2010 British PM Gordon Brown issued formal apologies to the remaining child migrants (home children) & their descendants for the abuses which were suffered & the families separated & tossed to the corners of the Colonies. The Canadian Minister of Immigration Jason Kenny, did not issue a formal apology…we can all guess what I think of him!

January 15, 2014
by Craftygrrrl
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I was looking for a great literary quote that would completely sum up my sentiments about starting a new year, but I was unable to locate one in the 10 minutes I spent looking. Had I decided to spend an entire day in research, I more than likely would have found something suitable, but there are things to knit, kids to raise, dinners to make & people to see…In short my time is too precious to spend that way. We move forward as really what else can you do? Crying over the proverbial spilled milk will not change the fact that you have a puddle to clean up, all you can do is get out the cloth, take the time to wipe it up properly so as not to have your house smell like sour milk then put on your coat & go buy another jug of milk. Times like this I am quite convinced my maternal Great Nan’s personality creeps through the genetic stew that is me. She was, from all I have heard a practical Yorkshire woman who took everything in stride. But enough of the family history….  On to the Plans for 2014!

I had hoped to put out the plans earlier than mid-January, but time being what it is…anywhoo, I find if I publicly announce what I want to do this year someone (most likely my Mum) will hold me to the plans in that polite way that Mum’s have of motivationally enquiring what you are up to. (I’ve discovered this trait is starting to take form in myself)

Chris & I (alright me!) are finally at the end of our tether with the kitchen & have found a design which we both like. While perusing the internets for some DIY decor ideas, I came across this pantry redo and was rather taken with it. Chris liked it too so we have started the process of cleaning out the kitchen of useless crap, figuring out paint colours, building a budget, taking careful measurements all in preparation of starting work in April. Why April you ask? If one is going to be sanding, painting & in general creating  a holy hell of a dusty mess, it’s best if this can be done when one can open the windows & air the place out. I am terribly excited to start this project & Chris is terrified everytime he comes home from work that I may have taken the sledge to things for an early start.

As for the craft side of things I am working to clear the decks of some long lingering projects. Later this week I will reorganize the Girl Cave, locate all the lingering WIPS & make the decision to either keep & finish the project or rip it out & salvage the yarn for something else. My parents have each asked for a jumper be knit which will help with some further wrangling of the Stash. There will also be some purging of the Stash…a few years back I thought I was a sock knitter…I am not, but I do know some one who is & some of my sock yarns will go to her.

As for the current projects, I somehow won 150$ gift certificate to a place of my choice through my work, I chose yarn…


Pattern: Golden Wheat Cardi

Yarn: MadelineTosh Chunky in Victorian Gothic

I am hoping to be done this cardi some time this week.

My travel project:


Pattern: Rikke with a few modifications

Yarn: Cephalopod Traveller in Gallifrey

I picked up this skein at Rhinebeck last Fall. I love this colour & would really like a sweater’s worth, but that will have to wait!

And then there is the sewing…

I continue to be inspired by Sonya Philip’s 100 Acts of Sewing project, I am working at:

1 – Shrinking my wardrobe, I do not need ALL THE CLOTHES!

2 – Making my own clothing either from a pattern or up-cycling thrifted clothes

3 – Reclaiming a personal style – I am more than a little done with the Frumpy Mummy uniform & the “I look just like everyone else” realization that tends to come with buying from the chain stores.

4 – When I need to buy a piece of clothing, follow my Paternal Grandmother’s advice: Buy well made, classic lines & natural fibers (okay that last one is my rule) also buy the best shoes you can afford that can be resoled, your feet will thank you for years to come!

4a. Look first to indi/local designers first.

Sonya Philip also released her  Dress No.2 pattern a few weeks back.  I eagerly ordered the pattern & took advantage of a fabric sale. Three new dresses are in the works…


The final plan for the year is to just be. It’s a bit granola munchy for me, but it’s true, I have been working hard on not having expectations & just enjoying the time I get to spend with my people.

January 2, 2014
by Craftygrrrl
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2013 was a year that could just suck it! Although it was not terribly nasty by comparison to other people’s 2013, it was still a test of my patience & dark humour when things went right into the shitter.

It started on January 3rd with our washer dying & the repair cost being the same as a new washer. For 2 months while we saved to buy a replacement, I hauled our laundry to the laundromat around the corner in my grocery buggy. Pro Tip: get to the laundry by 9am & all the machines are yours!

There was the death of Chris’ Grandma, a few trips to the ER with Liam and assorted other tiny & big annoyances that ended with a case of lice, a huge ice storm & large portions of Toronto without power for days. We were fortunate to have our power back by morning of Christmas Eve, but there were still families who 10+ days later were still  in the dark.

Throughout everything, I channeled my Great Nan’s ability to overcome, kept reminding myself it could be way worse, focused on the bright spots & crafted to stay sane as we soldiered on. The crafting to stay sane proved to be a fairly decent plan as I think this year saw my highest production levels in years! Annoyed with the offerings for ladies fashion and having finally lost the last dregs of the baby weight, I made 7 dresses this summer & a tunic on Christmas day! At least four sweaters for me were completed, a few shawls, lots of hats, there was some weaving and stuff for the kids (not that they actually wore them after asking for said item to be made!). This flurry of activity may be the reason for the complete lack of decent photos of any of my completed projects. This year I should show Abi how to use the DSLR to help me take photos.

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Rhinebeck happened, some new tattoos were added, the kids learned & grew closer to the type of humans I will be proud of. I saw my people (but not often enough) and made it to the Royal Fleece Auction for the first time in 5 years. There were days where I lost it and very much wanted to pack it all in to piss off to Harris & Lewis to become a croft weaver for Harris Tweed and there were days where I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. So 2013 was survived & even enjoyed in some parts. Now I’m looking over the next year & figuring it out…


November 12, 2013
by Craftygrrrl
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Five long years…

The second week of November is one of my favourite weeks of the year. The insanity of getting kids back to school, 3 birthdays in 6 weeks, Thanksgiving & Halloween are behind us, we’ve had a brief moment to relax & finally settled into a solid routine…and The Royal Winter Fair opens! As the advert says, “for one week, the country comes to the city” & I couldn’t be happier!

The Royal is one of my happy places. As a kid, my parents would take us each year, we would wander around looking at all the animals & displays. I have a vague memory of asking my Dad to trade in our herd of Hereford for some Jersey cows (I thought they were super pretty with those big brown eyes) and to get a few goats...he refused to discuss the possibility of goats, I am of the opinion he has some sort of childhood goat trauma of which we do not speak. At the end of the trip, my sister & I would be treated to a candy apple (can’t remember if my brother got one or not, have vague recollection he didn’t care for them & chose something else) then we would head home.

Now that I have kids, I make a point of taking them every year and they seem to enjoy it as much as I did as a kid, especially as there was a mechanical bull this year…wpid-20131110_122113.jpg

Abi stayed on for 45 seconds before flying off

The kids have finally realized the simple joy that is a peameal sandwich with mustard.


Liam has taken up my earlier position of asking for livestock. Where I harassed my Dad for cows & goats, Liam wants rabbits! Specifically Flemmish Giants! Can’t say I disagree with him….there was a black Flemmish for sale & I was sorely tempted…

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Abi, on the other hand, is all about the cows & sheep…

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She was quite beside herself when we found the set of triplet lambs!

I was super thrilled to see 9 Sheep to Shawl teams competing this year!

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Building memories, eating tasty food and snapping photos of livestock is not my only reason for going…This is…


That right there are fleece that have been entered in the Fleece Competition and are auctioned off on the last day of the Fair with the proceeds of the sales going to the 4H club.

It has been 5 long years since I have attended the fleece auction, so I was well due. Chris & the kids left me to my devices & headed home…

Sitting beside Our Denny, with bid cards in hand, things were about to get ugly…good thing the kids left after this photo was taken…


Our Denny, being of the good sort, appreciates the time & effort that goes into raising a sheep & she came with a plan…a plan that ended with my buying a fleece for $30/lb and another for almost $20/lb… both of these fleece were Shetlands weighing in at no more than 2-3lbs each which is about a sweater quantity. One cannot buy a sweater quantity of pure Shetland Yarn for under $90! Think about that. I remember in the early 1980s when Shepherds were getting fractions of a cent per pound of fleece. We lost a lot of our sheep farms at that time, so if my buying a $90 fleece helps in some small way to support the Shepherds, then I’m totally cool with Our Denny running up the bids on my fleece. Besides the trash talk & stink eye we exchanged each time she did it was hilarious! When I told my Dad about Our Denny bidding up my fleece his response was “Good for her!”

I sent one of my fleece off to Wellington Fibers for processing & the other which is a mixed colour came home with me so I could have another go at processing a fleece myself.



November 5, 2013
by Craftygrrrl
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RHinebeck – Finally

I had planned to write this post within the first week after Rhinebeck, but as per usual life got in the way. In a way I’m glad it has taken me over two weeks to get around to posting about it as I can relive all the fun via the few photos I took.

The Canadian Contingent enroute

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We were all terribly confused by this piece of “art” in the ladies loo when we stopped at the Falls before crossing the border.


A close up of whatever that is supposed to be on the stool.


Yeah, we are still not sure what that was meant to be…So we had a peek at the falls & got back in the car.


This year there were 8 of us who took over a house in Hudson, New York, about 40 minutes North of Rhinebeck. Hudson is a neat little town with some really great antique shops, restaurants & a few vintage shops. I was hoping to spend a bit more time exploring, but yarn was calling…

I loved this scrimshawed deer(?) skull in one of the antique stores.


Tasty shrimp & chorizo tacos from Mexican Radio.


Creepy abandoned, but well maintained house up the hill from where we stayed.


Neat little VW Bug pick-up hack. I really want one of my own now!


Overwhelmed by the yarn & people, I developed a slight case of camnesia while at Rhinebeck, but did manage to get in a few photos…

Saturday the Fair Grounds were packed with people,


This was taken as we entered the grounds about 15 minutes after the gates opened, it just got busier after that!

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I think these are Shetlands, regardless I would really appreciate one of each colour under the Christmas tree this year.

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Rhinebeck is well known for it’s broad selection of fair food, but this year I was beyond thrilled to see there was a Flaumekuchen food truck! I was introduced to this Alsatian bit of yummyness by my friend Nat (she’s Alsation) a few years ago at a restaurant in Toronto called Elle Ma Dit (sadly now closed). Flaummkuchen (or Tarte Flambe) is a very thin crust “pizza” (think saltines thin) traditionally baked with creme fraishe and bits of smoked lardons toppings, although you can top it with pretty much anything. I would happily live off this stuff!

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I chose the basic version & would have worked my way through the menu but I was near hallucinogenic from all the rich dairyness. So tasty and the servings are large enough to be comfortable shared.


At one point I found myself in the middle of the Llama Parade.


Then the shopping started… I approach all fiber show/sales like a military strike, I make a list before hand of the vendors I want to see & what yarns weights & yardage I need for a few specific projects. This serves multiple purposes, but mainly it keeps me from becoming overwhelmed and buying ALL THE THINGS. I also kept a healthy distance from the Norm Hall booth  & only got close enough to take a picture of one of his beautiful custom wheels before running away.


Last I heard a few years ago, he had a 10 year wait list to get on his 7 year wait list for one of his wheels! Dude makes very pretty wheels.

After everyone had assembled back at the house, we laid out our purchases for show & tell…


There were some lovely yarns in that pile!

Then sooner than one would think it was time to pack it all up and head home…

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There are plans afoot to do it all over again next year, but am not sure at this point if I’ll make it as Chris’ birthday is the Saturday of Rhinebeck weekend. As it was this year, his birthday was on the Friday we left to drive down. Although he did say he would like to have a David Lynch Marathon weekend…hmmmm

October 12, 2013
by Craftygrrrl
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Prep for Rhinebeck 2013

I figure I’ll have more success posting more often if I keep the posts short & photo heavy…or that’s the theory/delusion I’m working with.

Rhinebeck 2013 is fast approaching,  as of this typing – 6 days away! I am beyond thrilled with this impending short break from reality. It has been two years since I was last there & I had a blast, so the bar is set fairly high.

There are 8 of us who have rented a house in Hudson, New York. It’s roughly 30-40 (depending on your map) minutes North of Rhinebeck proper. Two of the house mates I haven’t seen since the last trip & 2 I have never met, but they come highly praised.

As time ticks closer to our departure, I’m working my way though the check list:

Passport is current.

Have actual grown-up luggage.

Completed Rhinebeck Sweater: Dressage from Twist Collective Yarn: Malabrigo Mecha in Solis colourway.


Since taking this photo, I have ripped back the i-cord bind-off & added 3” of rib as I kept feeling like the sweater was hikking up my backside.

Still to get:


Hendricks Gin (will pick up at the Duty Free on way down) – Gin & Tonic has become the unofficial drink of whatever house we are staying at for Rhinebeck.

Finally narrow down my shopping list to keep to my budget.

Research the requirements for transporting a sheep across the border… Have already promised my car mates that I will not buy a sheep (or as I like to call them: Proto Sweaters) to bring home (although I am not new to transporting sheep in cars) but I will be looking at sheep for my future plan to sell up in the city, buy a plot of land, have a Hobbit Hole/cob house built and to keep a spinners flock & some chickens (I shall name them ALL Lola!). Other than the Hobbit Hole, my Dad is on board with my idea, the kids are all over this plan. Chris & my Mum think I’m a bit daft, but that’s really just par for the course.

September 30, 2013
by Craftygrrrl
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What on Earth happened to my Summer?!

My last post (as my Mum reminds me) was in late May, I was gearing up for the end of school followed by eight long weeks with my beloved children. It’s almost like I went to bed one night & woke up to discover 4 months had flown by and now I’ve got a whole lot to catch you up on.

The Summer was lovely, we played & adventured around the city and I went on quite the crafting jag.

Annoyed with the current offerings in the clothes stores, I dusted off my sewing machine, made seven dresses for myself and one for Abi.

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I added two more tattoos to my body, due to their placement, I will not post photos, but will link to the inspiration. Since someone always asks, I currently have 10 tattoos, yes I said “currently” because I will more than likely add more over time. No, my tattoos do not signify a mental or moral failing, I just happen to like permanently decorating my body & only a very select few know where & what I have tattooed on me. The majority of the work I have are adapted from Iron Age La Tene culture designs.

This Summer was also filled with music, I have attended more concerts in the past few months than I have been to in the past 10 years. Starting with The Breeders, followed by TREE Fest with The Lowest of the Low & Flogging Molly, then there was RIOT Fest where I watched Iggy Pop flail around on stage. The last concert was Dropkick Murphys with The Mahones. Fellow Mum Leah was my companion for all of them & we had good times! I had forgotten how much I loved seeing bands live, but also discovered I really don’t care for crowds and have even less patience for drunk girls with no sense of personal space. Leah & I tended to leave before someone (not us) was going to get punched (by us, okay me!).

There was a lot of cooking with the kids, we made doughnuts, Onigiri, stained glass eggs and tonnes of other stuff. We had plans to do some preserving, but just never got around to it.

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Knitting also occurred. I knit a lot of shawls and started a sweater, they will have their own post…

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Now we are on to Fall and all the busy-ness of 3 birthdays in 6 weeks, Rhinebeck and getting people back into a groove!



May 29, 2013
by Craftygrrrl
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Have bag, will travel…eventually…

While perusing Pinterest one day, I came across this rather nifty duffel bag sewing pattern. I had been looking for a decent size weekender bag for sometime & all the ones I had found were either not quite the right size or pretty darn expensive, but this bag looked to have all that I needed and gave me an excellent excuse to finally use that yard of Kokka Trefle fabric that had been in the fabric stash since Abi was 2.


Robots! How fun!

The duffel pattern is a .pdf, which I’m rather fond of as they allow for a certain level of instant gratification and I can print them out on a heavier paper than that tissue paper traditional patterns are printed on.

With patten printed & taped together, I made a run up to my LFS (Local Fabric Store) for the few supplies I needed, read through the instructions and got down to business…and this is about the time things went a bit wonky… I am a visual learner, written instructions and I are just never a good combination no matter how well written they are and the Duffel pattern has REALLY GOOD written instructions, my brain is just not wired to work that way. I need pictures! Well defined & clear pictures, or video. Give me one of those shop manual blowouts of an engine & I can rip that Ducatti engine apart, clean it and pop it all back together in a weekend, give me written instructions and you’ll be lucky to see it back together in this lifetime. All this is to say that at some point in the construction of the duffel, I messed up a few times.

First mess up was I bought a separating zipper when I needed a zipper with a stop at the end. After a bit of internet perusal, I figured out a fix that would give me a non-seperating zipper.

My second OOPS! was I realized that according to the instructions, the outside of the bag was sewn first THEN the lining was attached. I had sewn all the layers together and ended up with raw edges inside the bag…WTF?! that was not how the examples I had seen looked…upon re-reading the instructions, I discovered my error and quickly set about fixing it. By “fixing it” I do not mean ripping apart all my seams and re-starting, that is just not my style, unless it is the only solution then I will crack a beer and accept my fate.

I had in my sewing stash some bias tape and it was the perfect width to cover almost all the raw edges, there are a few that will need a trim with the pinking shears…but we won’t talk about them.


Applying the bias tape through 4 to 5 layers of fabric was slow going but I eventually got it all done, cleaned up my loose threads and turned everything right side out just as Liam came downstairs, saw the bag & with his eyes all lit up and said “ROBOTS!IS THAT FOR ME???!”


Yes, my little man…this is now for you.

Abi has requested a bag of her own as well…perhaps this time I will make it according to the instructions…


May 22, 2013
by Craftygrrrl
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Oh…I’ve been a busy bee

My plan to post more often went completely off the rails, but for good reason! I’ve been a busy little crafting bee!

It started with my turning 6 pairs of pants into knickerbockers. I’m planning on posting how I did this at a later date, but really it was pretty dead easy. I need to pick up some fun knee high argyle socks to complete my English Estate look and perhaps get a few Oxfod Cloth Button-down shirts & cravats so I can look like a complete Blue Blood tosser!


Then I finished Innisfil. I wore it to the Knitters Frolic and received a few compliments which left me chuffed as it’s nice to have your hard work appreciated by complete strangers.


On the tails of my knickerbocker success I set about sewing up some new spring frocks. Two have been finished thus far (one on black linen & one in red linen) using Sonya Phillips pattern from the 100 Acts of Sewing project she did last year. (not the greatest shots, I know, but my camera battery was dead and had to use the mobile camera.) Both dresses have already seen a lot of wear & I need to get cracking on the purple version. I can totally see this dress becoming a staple of my wardrobe and I have plans to sew a few heavier wool versions for cooler weather. This is a super easy pattern and really good for a beginning sewer as you just have 4 seams and a hem. If making your own bias tape is a bit intimidating, you can use store bought.



I have also finished a Hugin & Munin shawl, there is no photo as it will probably become a Christmas present.

This massive upsurge in creative production has been the best therapy, things have been busy around here which has led to my not getting out to socialize as much as I should/need. Being able to hunker down in the Girl Cave and emerge a few hours later with a new dress or take to the couch with my knitting at the end of the day has given me a nice sense of accomplishment, some new skills and taken the edge off my lack of socializing. The only real down side from this flurry of activity is I’m getting more ideas for projects than I have hours in the day and with the Summer Break looming about 6 weeks off I’m going to miss this time…perhaps I’ll institute a Afternoons are for Crafting rule while the kids are at home…



April 25, 2013
by Craftygrrrl
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Impressing a 9 year old is not as hard as you think…

A few weeks back, I helped a friend out with some emergency childcare so found myself in the company of a 9 year old girl for the day while my kids were at school. Since I didn’t want her to spend the day playing games on her Nintendo DS, I hauled her off to the local thrift shop to gather supplies for my new Spring wardrobe.

I don’t think my young companion had ever been in a thrift shop before and she was shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU to discover that really good quality, barely worn clothing could be found for so cheap! She kept asking why her Mum buys stuff at regular price!

I made the shopping experience a bit of a game and gave her the parameters of what we were looking for: preferably wool (or a blend) pants in this size range, length of leg does not matter, the wackier the plaid/tweed the better…7 pairs of pants and 2 herringbone tweed jackets later (all for the reasonable price of $60) and we were good to go.

My little companion thought our little shopping adventure was great fun and decided to tell her Mum about shopping in thrift stores instead of buying brand new! When I told her my plans for the purchases she was quite nearly blown away! Her Mum, whom I dearly love, will toss a shirt if it loses a button, so the idea of taking clothes and cutting them up into something new was boggling my companion’s brain & she then asked “you can do that to clothes?!” I decided to save the history of refashioning/upcycling clothing lesson for another day…

Once back home, I tried on the pants, only to discover the one pair we both really liked, a grey herringbone plaid with a faint pink stripe were way too small on me.


Gears were switched, googling occurred &  new plan was hatched, scrapped and re-designed…we were going to make an infinity scarf!

My friend helped with the measurements, making sure things matched up and I did the sewing and the cutting.340

We started by cutting off the legs & ripping the seams to give us 4 panels which were sewed into one long strip. As there wasn’t enough of the wool fabric, we made the executive decision to pull the lining from the pants and use it.


After some finagling with the slippy & fraying lining, we had things pinned together. With right sides together, we made two side seams, creating a long tube which was flipped right side out. At this point had I been thinking, I should have sewn French Seams, but we were excited to see the final product.


The final step was the most finicky, sewing the tube closed…googling was done again, videos were watched, we felt confident. Once I had sewn almost all the way around, I left about a 2 inch gap to stuff the seam back through and hand stitched the last of the seam.


My little friend was super impressed that in as few as two hours, we took a pair of ill fitting pants and made a rather fancy infinity scarf. I told her she needs to hang out with me more, we now have some tentative plans to use old bedsheets to make a rug…

Happiest surprise of all was the discovery that my new scarf works very nicely with my Quest!


Not the greatest shot as I’m still figuring out my new mobile’s camera.

I’ll tell you what happened to the rest of the pants we bought in another post…



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